Myanmar Language Commission

The Myanmar Language

The Rajakumar stone inscriptions (popularly known as the Myazedi stone inscriptions) bears  the date equivalent to 1113A.D and carries  the same message in four languages, Myanmar, Mon, Pyu and Pali. Since this is the earliest dated inscription in Myanmar surviving to this day, it suggests that the Myanmar language in its written form has been in existence for at least 900 years. In spite of this tradition however, the fact that a  modern and universally accepted orthography and a dictionary recording a substantial part of the lexicon had yet to be published as  late as two decades ago shows the state of neglect that had transpired to handicap its development as a language even in the country of its origin.

The Myanmar Language Commission

To address this discrepancy and establish the Myanmar language, which is in fact the medium of communication for the vast majority of the people either as their mother tongue or the most practical second language in this multi ethnic union, on a firm footing, the Commission for Myanmar Literature and Translation was created in 1963. The following developments finally led to the establishment of the Myanmar Language Commission of today: -

  1. The Commission for Myanmar Literature and Translation was created in 1963 by the Revolutionary Council. In the main it was invested with the task of compiling an orthography of the langrage and to translate textbooks into Myanmar in order that the medium of instruction in educational institutions could be effectively carried out in Myanmar. The Commission was chaired by the Minister for Education.
  2. The above commission was reorganized as the Myanmar Language Commission in 1971 with the mission to perpetuate and develop the Myanmar language. Tasks named in particular called for compilation of a modern, comprehensive dictionary founded on a firm bedrock of traditional values and texts on grammar. The task o translating textbooks remained with the Universities Translation Department which made up part of the Myanmar Literary and Translation Commission and which now continued to operate under the Department of Higher Education. The Commission became a separate department  under the Ministry of Education. The Minister for Education was chairman of the Commission which continued to be made up partly of members by designation, such as directors general under the Ministry of Education, Ministry of Culture, Ministry of Information etc, and members from the academic and literary circles appointed by the government.
  3. In 1983 the Commission underwent an organizational change, being entirely made up of members appointed with the consent of the Council of the State. This new commission could now meet more and oversee the work done by the department in greater depth and detail. The Minister for Education continued to be its chairman.

Objectives

The broad objectives of the Commission were to:-

  • preserve and perpetuate the standard and accurate use of the Myanmar language in terms of spelling, pronunciation, lexis, grammar,  syntax, etymology and meaning;
  • promote the growth and development of the  Myanmar language.

Strategies

The Commission  pursues the above objectives by adopting the strategies laid down as follows :-

  1. forming committees to implement projects;
  2. co-ordinating with and securing the co-operation of  various state and other organisations, as well  as that of individuals ;
  3. procuring manuscripts, publications and copyrights of  individuals for use in the implementation of its  projects as and when  deemed neccessary;
  4. awarding suitable honoraria to individuals to write  academic papers or books on Myanmar language;
  5. carrying out tasks assigned by the Council of  Ministers for the realization of the aims and objectives  of the Commission.

Projects

Projects undertaken or slated to be taken up in the future by the Commission  comprise of the following categories :-

  • to compile up-to-date, comprehensive, accurate  and authoritative dictionaries of the Myanmar language ;
  • to produce and publish books on Myanmar  grammar which will  contribute towards accurate, lucid, concise and effective writing;
  • to produce and publish books on other facets of the Myanmar language such as Dictionary of Synonyms and Antonyms, Book of Quotations, Thesaurus, Proverbs etc.